Trapping Laws Come Under Fire

Trapping is still a popular past time in the northern half of the
country. Mostly trappers are looking for beavers, raccoons and
But every year, a small number of household pets are caught as well.
As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports, one pet
is fighting to change that:


Trapping is still a popular pastime in the northern half of the country. Mostly, trappers are

looking for beavers, raccoons, and muskrats. But every year, a small number fo household pets are

caught as well. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports, one pet owner is

fighting to change that.

Valentine was Meg Massaro’s best friend. She was a black and brown boxer. And, at one time, a

mangy stray. Massaro found her on the side of the road and nursed her back to health. The two

became inseperable. Then, on a cold January morning, they went for a run on a local bike path.

“So I let her off the leash. She bounded happily in front of me for about thirty seconds. The next

thing I know I heard her screaming and I jumped in after her and she was sailing through the air

with a bucket over her head. I took the bucket off her head and there was a trap and I said to my

husband, ‘What is it?’ She kept looking at me, pleadingly her eyes were just getting bigger and

bigger. She couldn’t breathe. And animal control with the help of police were finally able to get

it off. It was about an hour and a half that she was in the trap. Of course, by that time, she was

long gone. It was gruesome, very grisly.”

The trap was about fifty feet from this bike path just outside of Albany, New York. Massaro

remembers thinking this had to be illegal. It’s an area with playgrounds and picnic benches. So,

she called New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and found out the trap was legally


“They were really like, ‘Well what do you want us to do, lady?’ And I said, ‘I want you to go out

and see if there are any more traps and if there are, I want you to remove them.’ And the guy

said, ‘We wouldn’t be able to do that.’ So I just said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and hung up the and

I thought, ‘This is war.'”

Massaro started calling newspapers. She circulated a petition with thousands of names. And she

began lobbying – full time – to get traps out of residential areas.

“I can’t imagine that anyone wants traps near their home, near where their kids play, near where

their dogs are walking; it doesn’t make any sense to allow that.”

Albany County legislator Paulette Barletti talked to Massaro over the phone after the incident.

But she wasn’t sure it was an issue she wanted to adopt. Then, she saw photographs the police took

after Valentine’s death.

“I was actually horrified. And the first thing that came to my mind was, good grief, this could be

a child.”

Barletti introduced legislation to ban trapping on state or private land. That’s because New York,

like most states, regulates trapping on the state level. Traps can be set on most state land and

on private land with permission of the landowner.

Gordon Batcheller runs New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s trapping program. He

says trappers often serve as their eyes and ears in the field.

“Trapping is actually very hard, it’s hard work and it takes a lot of skills. Studies have shown

that trappers, of all outdoor users, have the highest level of all wildlife biology. They’re

extremely knowledgeable about animals. They can tell us what’s going on out there and we really

value what they tell us because they’re knowledgeable and they see things.”

Batcheller says the majority of trappers are extremely careful about where they set their traps.

And there aren’t too many pets being caught. but Batcheller says it’s clear that in those cases,

the trapper made a mistake.

“In the incidents that we’ve evaluated, the traps simply should not have been set where they were

set. Even though it was legal, poor judgement was used in those instances and experienced trappers

that look at these cases, they shake their heads and say why did they do that.”

Now, thanks in part to Meg Massaro’s campaign, Batcheller is trying to find a compromise. He’s

come up with new recommendations. They’d require trappers to move traps off the ground and onto

stands and trees where dogs can’t reach them. And, he’s proposing tougher restrictions near roads

and bike paths. Batcheller hopes the recommendations will be in place by next fall. But Meg

Massaro says it’s not enough. She’s lobbying for local control so counties can make their own

decisions about trapping. And she wants traps banned from recreational areas. But mostly, she

wants to make sure that this never happens to someone’s dog again.

“When I drover her home that first time, tears were running down my cheks that day because I

couldn’t believe how abused this dog had been. And i promised, I said it out loud to her, no one

will ever hurt you again. And I lied. I didn’t mean to, but i lied and i can’t live with that. I

have to do something to compensate for that. She deserved better, and other people and their pets

deserve better.”

For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly in Albany, New York.

Adirondack Man

As in so many rural areas, the culture of the Adirondack Mountains is
in decline. The days of hunting and trapping have given way to
condominiums and convenience stores. At one time, the Adirondack
pack-basket was a emblem of this culture. But the number of people who
make them has dwindled. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly
visited one of the few residents keeping this tradition alive:

Urban Trapping

As human populations grow and sprawl out from cities, the number of
human/animal conflicts increases. But it’s creating a healthy demand
for a growing industry. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Wendy Nelson